This massive granite castle, in the hamlet of Drewsteignton, 27km (17 miles) west of Exeter, was designed and built between 1910 and 1930 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, then at the height of his powers, for his client, Julius Drewe, a self-made millionaire whose chain of Home & Colonial Stores enabled him to retire very rich in 1899 at the age of 33. It was the last private country house built in the United Kingdom on a grand scale. Though constructed of granite and castellated and turreted like a medieval castle from the age of chivalry, it was never intended to be a military stronghold. The castle occupies a bleak but dramatic position high above the River Teign, with views sweeping out over the moors.
The tour covers an elegant series of formal rooms designed in the tradition of the Edwardian age. Two restaurants and a buffet-style tearoom are on premises. Serving standard English fare, these restaurants are more for convenience than any grand cuisine. But the food is at least first-class cafeteria fare, prepared with fresh ingredients.
Insider's tip: The castle is so overpowering it's easy to forget the secluded gardens. But they are wonderful, including a sunken lawn enclosed by raised walkways, a circular croquet lawn (sets are available for rent), geometrically shaped yew hedges, and a children's playroom based on a 1930s residence.